Every CPA is instilled with a set of skills when they earn their title. Certain traits, however, must be intuited, learned on the job, or part of a professional’s personality. These qualities are what separate good accountants from indispensable accountants; rather than viewing your CPA as a person who provides a service, you should see them as a person with whom you have an essential relationship. Below, we have isolated five traits that mark a great accountant.
Creativity—A great CPA needs to be creative. No, this doesn’t need he or she should have an artistic hobby. It means your accountant should have the capacity to think outside the box. A creative mind can see and present a situation in a new and interesting way, generating unique solutions to even the toughest of accounting problems. Most client problems aren’t textbook cases, and they require special attention, personalization, and a lot of creativity.
Commitment to the industry—An accountant should be passionate about doing the math and helping clients. For a CPA to be truly indispensable, they need to be passionate about their career and the service they provide; it should not just be a way to make money. This is essential for the level and quality of work output and for employment turnover. If a person loves what they do, they’re likely to stick around for a while.
Trustworthiness—CPAs handle a lot of sensitive material; some joke that they know their clients better than most family members. Most forms and figures that pass through an accountant’s hands are confidential, and CPAs must be vigilant in their commitment to privacy. This should extend beyond the workplace; if an accountant spends their free time gossiping about co-workers and clients, they’re likely not a good fit for a position.
Interest in technology and development—Accounting work hasn’t changed much, but the ways accountants work shift with every round of software releases. According to Daniel Hood, the Editor-in-Chief of Accounting Today, an invaluable CPA should have an interest in and willingness to experiment with new and developing technology. Flexibility and the ability to adapt and learn on the job are essential for good accounting.
Focus on personal and partner development—Michael Platt, Principal of the Platt Group, has said that pushing for firm, partner, and personal development is one of the most essential characteristics for a CPA. This might mean earning a concomitant degree, or perhaps taking on certain projects just for the experience. This might mean providing guidance to younger or lower-level CPAs in a firm, or perhaps providing constructive suggestions in meetings. Whatever the case, your CPA should not be content with quality of work; they should always strive to do better.